As part of the Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) program’s annual staff retreat, staff came together to reflect on the work they do in our community and explore their feelings in a supportive and creative environment. The retreat activities were facilitated by Kay DeWaide, former ArtSpeak Facilitator and Owner/Facilitator of Sarassea Expressive Arts. Kay led ECI staff in various expressive art activities, but the images shown reflect the Stone Catcher activity which was inspired by Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy.” In the book, Bryan meets a woman who lost her grandchild and spends her time comforting people in the courthouse who were in pain or under unfortunate circumstances. She likened herself to being a “stone catcher” and the “stones” were the bad feelings, pain, obstacles, hurtful words and accusations that people received from others and it was her mission to comfort those who were hurting. Kay used this story to facilitate the Stone Catcher activity for ECI staff. Each office imagined the “stones” as the barriers, obstacles, and painful things that happen to people and how those things impact the people we serve. Kay likened the work our staff do as social workers and home visitors to that of “stone catchers;” dedicated to catching the stones for the people we serve. ECI staff then used all of their caught “stones” to build something beautiful for their neighborhood office.

Thank you, ECI staff for your commitment to the families and neighborhoods we serve and thank you, Kay DeWaide, for facilitating creative and insightful ways to reflect on our work in the community!

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